Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan has urged Senators from all parties to back her motion to end the HAP penalty and give survivors of domestic abuse fair access to civil legal aid.
The Private Member’s Bill will be debated in the Seanad on Monday evening.
Speaking today, Senator Boylan said:
“On Monday, my bill will go before the Seanad and I’m urging all Senators from all parties and independents to back it.
“For far too long, flaws in the system mean that people receiving Housing Assistance Payment are penalised unfairly when they apply for civil legal aid.
“HAP is paid directly to landlords, however it is considered to be part of someone’s income when they are assessed for civil legal aid eligibility. This denies survivors of domestic abuse and other low income households access to the courts.
“This is wrong, dangerous and must be stopped. It creates the appalling situation whereby survivors of domestic abuse may have to represent themselves in court during hearings about child custody or child maintenance.
“Survivors who are trying to rebuild their lives are being let down by this discriminatory system and it is taking an enormous toll on their mental health.
“A simple change in the law can scrap this HAP penalty. This Bill will address this unfair anomaly to ensure that the most vulnerable can access civil legal aid.
“I am urging all Senators to do the right thing and back my Bill. Far too many people are being let down by these unfair flaws. No survivor should ever be left without the legal aid they need.”